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NRA's hot trend predictions for 2018

Gourmet kids meals, Peruvian cuisine and house-made condiments

In 2018, American kids will be eating a wider range of foods and grown-ups will be swapping out carbs for vegetables and eating heritage breeds of meat with uncommon herbs, according to chefs polled by the National Restaurant Association.

In its annual What’s Hot survey, the NRA asks members of the American Culinary Federation to rank a long list of items as either a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news” or “perennial favorites.”

New cuts of meat ranked in first place, same as last year, followed by house-made condiments, which leapt five places to second. Street-food-inspired dishes, ethnic-inspired breakfast items and sustainable seafood rounded out the top five. They all scored in the top six last year, with ethnic-inspired breakfast jumping up two spots to fourth. 

Healthful kids’ meals fell three places to sixth, but gourmet items in kids’ meals moved up two spots to 18th and ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes joined the top 20 trends for the first time at 16th place. 

Other newcomers are vegetable carb substitutes (think riced cauliflower and parsnip purée), uncommon herbs (thank the New Nordic movement for this, with ingredients such as yarrow and stinging nettle), Peruvian cuisine, heritage breed meats, Thai rolled ice cream (ice cream base poured on a super-chilled “anti-griddle,” frozen and rolled into a tight cylinder), doughnuts with nontraditional filling and ethnic condiments (such as Sriracha, gochujang and chimichurri). 

Doughnuts with nontraditional filling is the fastest-growing trend: More chefs voted for it this year compared to last year than any other trend. 

It was followed by ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes, farm/estate-branded items, heritage-breed meats and Peruvian cuisine. 

Conversely, the items whose trendiness is cooling off fastest are artisan cheese, heirloom fruit & vegetables, house-made charcuterie and house-made/artisan ice cream. 

In terms of nonalcoholic beverages, the hottest trend was house-made or artisanal soft drinks. Of the 700 chefs surveyed, 56 percent said it was hot. 

Next came cold-brew coffee, gourmet lemonade and locally roasted/house-roasted coffee, all of which got 55 percent of votes. 

They were followed by specialty tea (hot and iced), mocktails and kombucha. 

Topping trends in alcohol beverages are culinary cocktails — such as those containing savory ingredients, fresh ingredients or herbal infusions. 

They were followed by locally produced spirits, wine and beer, and then craft or artisan spirits, on-site barrel-aged drinks, regional signature cocktails and food-beer pairings.

The full report can be found here.

Contact Bret thorn at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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